VC Corner Q&A: Phoebe Scriven

The Startup Grind Team
Aug 7 · 4 min read

Phoebe Scriven is an associate at Rooks Nest Ventures. Rooks Nest Ventures is a seed-stage VC firm that focuses on media-tech and is based in London.

Phoebe started off her career in consultancy. First in innovation, working with FMCG firms to understand their customers and design insight-led products, and then in management consultancy. During this time, she also worked externally both as a charity trustee as well as helping found and serve on the board of DevelopHer — a non-profit community for women in tech. It was here she first became involved in the start-up ecosystem and community.

Following her time in consulting, she spent a few years gaining operational experience as Chief of staff at Maslow Capital, a TPG-backed property lending company. It was during this time that Phoebe realised that her passion lay in venture and how it could be leveraged to support and work with incredible entrepreneurs.

After a brief break at the end of last year, Phoebe very happily joined Rooks Nest Ventures in January.

Please enjoy this Q&A with Phoebe Scriven.

Q&A:

What is your / your fund’s mission?

To be the conduit for growth for every significant media-tech company in the world.

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

At a broad level, how audio/voice are developing as two-sides of a connected interface. More specifically, how the infrastructure is developing around the synthetic voice industry and usages.

Who is one founder you think we should watch?

I think Jack Schulze — co-founder & CEO of Playdeo — has a great future. Cheating on this question slightly but I’m also watching Alex and Austen Ma (co-founders of TTYL) over in LA with interest.

What are the 3 top qualities of every great leader?

  1. Empathy
  2. Strength of conviction
  3. Open-mindedness.

What and when was your very first investment? What struck you about them?

I’m pretty new to VC so my first investment was earlier this year, in 12traits. They are an incredible gaming analytics company that differs from their competition in how they use psychological (rather than behavioural) data. The difference in value understanding the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’ has a huge impact on this area. I’m excited to help them progress.

What is one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

Am I excited about the company — its unique value proposition, its unique opportunity — or am I excited about the wider space? Sometimes the latter can brighten the appeal of the former.

What is one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

What do I need to find out in this meeting to feel confident that I can partner with these investors, for the next 10 years?

What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?

Build a great team, crack the magic to your sales, and obsess about the product.

Favorite business book, blog, podcast?

My favourite podcast series is ‘Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders’, which is the recordings of a fantastic Stanford lecture series from the past few years. It’s always packed with insights and fun anecdotes.

Bookwise, I love ‘Creativity, Inc’ by Ed Catmull for an insider-view into how Pixar created a framework and process around producing excellent content.

More recently, I also read ‘Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made’ by Jason Schreier. In each chapter, it charts the story of how a different hit video game was made. Like ‘Creativity, Inc’, it focuses in on the creative process as well as giving you a glimpse into deliberation behind some of the biggest games of past years (it also inspired me to play a couple of them).

Blogs, not so much. I think the closest thing I read in that regard is everything and anything Taylor Lorenz writes. She has an unerring sense of the zeitgeist.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

For me, joy can be found in a quiet coffee, outside, on a sunny morning. Unfortunately, that combination can be few and far between.

Who is one leader you admire?

Anna Wintour. I admire her clarity of vision, attention to detail, and unapologetic working style.

What is one interesting thing that most people don’t know about you?

It’s debatable how interesting it is, but I am pretty good at traditional calligraphy. Useful for table settings and little else.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to every founder?

Truly get to understand your customers. Spend time with them, ask them questions, and don’t stop doing this. There will always be things that you do not know or understand about their behaviors so seek to minimize this where possible.

How can startups reach you?

Startups interested in an opportunity to pitch Rooks Nest Ventures can apply here.

Startup Grind

The life, work, and tactics of entrepreneurs around the world. Welcoming submissions on technology trends, product design, growth strategies, and venture investing. Learn more about how you can get involved at startupgrind.com.

The Startup Grind Team

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Stories and strategies carefully curated by the Startup Grind global community. Say hello @ www.tinyurl.com/mediumsg

Startup Grind

The life, work, and tactics of entrepreneurs around the world. Welcoming submissions on technology trends, product design, growth strategies, and venture investing. Learn more about how you can get involved at startupgrind.com.

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